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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jul 24;284(30):20364-74. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.006569. Epub 2009 May 28.

Reversal of the mitochondrial phenotype and slow development of oxidative biomarkers of aging in long-lived Mclk1+/- mice.

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Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B1, Canada.


Although there is a consensus that mitochondrial function is somehow linked to the aging process, the exact role played by mitochondria in this process remains unresolved. The discovery that reduced activity of the mitochondrial enzyme CLK-1/MCLK1 (also known as COQ7) extends lifespan in both Caenorhabditis elegans and mice has provided a genetic model to test mitochondrial theories of aging. We have recently shown that the mitochondria of young, long-lived, Mclk1(+/-) mice are dysfunctional, exhibiting reduced energy metabolism and a substantial increase in oxidative stress. Here we demonstrate that this altered mitochondrial condition in young animals paradoxically results in an almost complete protection from the age-dependent loss of mitochondrial function as well as in a significant attenuation of the rate of development of oxidative biomarkers of aging. Moreover, we show that reduction in MCLK1 levels can also gradually prevent the deterioration of mitochondrial function and associated increase of global oxidative stress that is normally observed in Sod2(+/-) mutants. We hypothesize that the mitochondrial dysfunction observed in young Mclk1(+/-) mutants induces a physiological state that ultimately allows for their slow rate of aging. Thus, our study provides for a unique vertebrate model in which an initial alteration in a specific mitochondrial function is linked to long term beneficial effects on biomarkers of aging and, furthermore, provides for new evidence which indicates that mitochondrial oxidative stress is not causal to aging.

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